Review: Jamo wEAR In40i earphones PDF Print E-mail

Whenever I mention Jamo loudspeakers to anyone outside my circle of audio friends, I usually get asked if it's a new company. The answer to this is an emphatic: "No".

Jamo is a Danish loudspeaker manufacturer that has been around for over 40 years. During this time, the company has built some great speakers and continues to do so. Over the past decade or two, I've even owned a few pairs.

However, this review is not about Jamo’s loudspeakers, but about one of the company’s new sets of in-ear headphones, which – if you really think about it – are essentially just tiny loudspeakers too.
 
Like many competitors out in Audio Land, the Jamo wEAR In40i's are iPhone/iPod/iPad compatible, but the company claims that there are a few more aspects that differentiate them from the rest, elevating this product above the noise of other headphones.
 
Firstly, and to me, most importantly, is Jamo’s claim that it has drawn from its experience in the art of speaker building and acoustics and distilled this expertise into a small form factor.
 
The second aspect is that Jamo has made the discovery that our ear canals are not actually round but oval-shaped. This is reflected in the design of the new headphones, which has been designed to fit into the ear canal, making the In40i’s and the rest of the Jamo headphone range a fair bit more comfortable to use for longer periods of time than headphones made by other companies.
 
 
I put Jamo’s claims to the test by borrowing a friend’s iPhone for a while. I wanted to see (hear?) how well the integrated three button remote and echo cancelling mic worked and was delighted to discover that they worked as advertised.
 
For testing the In40i's sound and comfort quality, I switched from the iPhone to my own portable player. The reason for this change was simply because I prefer the sound of my player over that of the iPhone. My player also has a lot more uncompressed music stored on it.
 
Having oval ear-tips means that the In40i's did indeed fit into my ears and feel more comfortable than pretty much all of the round in-ear headphones I have. Having better pressure distribution also meant that the In40i's were easier to wear for longer, and the better fit resulted in enhanced rejection of outside noises.
 
This last aspect is both positive and negative.
 
It was great when I was on a long distance flight. By simply plugging in the In40i's, I was able to drown out much of the plane’s engine roar. Not being able hear what's going on around you is, however, a little less desirable when you're out jogging and a 20-tonne truck is bearing down on you.
 
On the sound front, I also liked the In40i's. They were among the most neutral sounding in-ear models I've heard to date. This neutrality means that, unlike headphones made by some competition manufacturers, the bass response is balanced and extended, low enough for me to be able to discern the texture of instruments such as double bass, bass guitar and drums. That neutrality also enabled me to hear the subtleties in voices, and high frequency detail made it easier for me to pick up the placement and timbre of, for example, brass instruments.
 
So while the In40i's certainly performed well in all the right categories, are they worth the asking price?
 
My answer to this is that it all depends on the kind of music you like to listen to.
 
If you prefer quantity over quality, and would rather have 10 000 highly compressed songs to listen to than 1000 high bit rate ones, then I would have to say don’t bother with these better earphones.
 
On the other hand, if you want to actually listen to your music – as opposed to just hearing it – then you will appreciate the In40i’s with their added comfort and more intelligible mic and consider the price you have to pay to be an investment in having a better musical experience.
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Good: These Jamo in-ear headphones are comfortable; cut out a fair bit of external noise; are compatible with iPhones; and most importantly, deliver good audio quality.
Bad: The only hindrance is that the product is a bit on the pricey side.
Rating: 9/10
Price: R 999-00
Contact: Radionic Distributors - (011) 915 1114; www.radionic.co.za

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